"The Challenge Is Huge -- But We're Up For It" -- Steve Johnson MADISON, IL 5/6/07 -- There are no successful racers who aren't totally dedicated to their craft. Pro Stock Motorcycle racer Steve Johnson of Irondale, AL is one of dozens, ...
"The Challenge Is Huge -- But We're Up For It" -- Steve Johnson
MADISON, IL 5/6/07 -- There are no successful racers who aren't totally dedicated to their craft. Pro Stock Motorcycle racer Steve Johnson of Irondale, AL is one of dozens, probably hundreds of competitors who live and breathe their chosen form of racing 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Racing luck may have something to do with a competitor's winning on a given day, but hard work trumps luck on most of those days.
Johnson's Snap-on Tools Suzuki suffered through another trying weekend on the NHRA POWERade Series tour, but despite a first round loss, he's enthusiastic about tomorrow -- and the next race for Pro Stock Motorcycles, which comes at ultra-quick Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, IL on the weekend of June 8-10.
"When we lose in the first round I get incredibly depressed," he acknowledged on Sunday evening. "But, 10 or 15 minutes later, I'm excited about racing again, and excited about our chances.
"The new NHRA points format means that no rider's going to be able to run away with the championship," he said. "As long as you're in the Top 8 in points going in to the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis over Labor Day weekend, you still have a chance to win it all. Well, we're still in the Top 8, so I think our chances are good.
"Not only that, but we moved into the Top 8 in qualifying points for the Ringers Gloves Pro Bike Battle, which also takes place at Indy, so right now things are better than they were for us even a week ago after the Southern Nationals in Atlanta."
Johnson is also encouraged by the professionalism and dedication of his crew, which is headed by noted tuner Mark Peiser. "Mark's the best in the business," Johnson said without hesitation. "I'm confident that he's going to sort out our problems, and have us qualifying in the top half of the fields so that we get lane choice for the first round of eliminations."
Recognizing that the changes they made to Johnson's Snap-on Tools Suzuki didn't produce the results they were looking for, the team "attacked" the machine after their first round loss, making wholesale changes in preparation for a day or more of testing at Gateway International Raceway beginning tomorrow morning. "We're going to make test runs, then make some additional changes to the bike, and then run again until we get our Snap-on machine running the way we know it can," he said.
Johnson was one of the star attractions at Saturday's Snap-on Tools Day At The Races, signing autographs and visiting with Snap-on dealers and customers in between qualifying sessions. On Friday the team hosted its largest group of WyoTech Technical School students thus far this season, another activity that Johnson always looks forward to. "I'm always hoping that we can make a positive impression on those young people," he said. "It may be a cliche, but those kids really are our future, and I love seeing that they understand that, too. An education has never been as important as it is today in our increasingly technical world."
Johnson had "a very good bike in our first qualifying session on Friday," but performances slowed on Saturday, ultimately relegating him to the 11th qualifying position. Johnson cut a credible 0.031-second Reaction Time against Andrew Hines in the first round, but then was out-performed down track, losing with a 7.125 second elapsed time to Hines's quicker 7.031 second effort.
"We're going to be hard at it early Monday morning," he promised. "We've got the right people and the right hardware. Now we've got to make it all work together so we can produce the kind of results I know we're capable of."